CAPE HENLOPEN REGIONAL PLAN DISCUSSED

Cape Henlopen Regional Plan laid out for public

Concerns about viability voiced at meeting

Source: Submitted The group behind the Cape Henlopen Regional Plan created four scenarios for growth in the Cape Region. This is the new town concept, where a new town would be created as a designated area for high density growth, allowing slower growth in the rest of the region.

Lewes — A local group is hoping to inspire Cape Region officials to work together to build a brighter future.

The Cape Henlopen Regional Plan was presented with four multijurisdictional growth scenarios at May 17 meeting at the Virden Center in Lewes. And while the concept was received warmly by most in attendance, some questioned the practicality of implementing such a plan.

“It's tough to grasp something that's this colorful,” said Dewey Beach Councilwoman Anna Legates. “We're struggling today with the reality of the gridlock on Route 1, and getting to the grocery store between noon, Saturday and 5 p.m., Sunday, dealing with how we get back to our homes. It's hard to look forward to something so conceptual.”

Ed Lewandowski of the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service said he was pleased with the turnout and comments received from the collection of about 50 people.

“We're really excited how engaged people seemed,” he said. “We need to tweak a few things. It's such a complex process. We could see apprehension.”

The event was attended by elected officials from several municipalities, the county and state.

Outgoing Lewes Councilwoman Barbara Vaughn, who's worked with the Cape Henlopen Regional Plan group the last several years, said it's initially difficult to grasp just what the group is trying to accomplish, but the intentions are good.

“We weren't trying to say what this region should look like. We were trying to envision possibilities, connections, different scenarios,” she said. “So don't look at this as something that's being proposed that we actually carry out. It's a tool.”

It can be an aid toward dictating zoning and the placement of commercial, residential, agricultural and industrial areas within the Cape Region. The group presented four different scenarios it's worked up, each with it's different plan for growth.

The comprehensive plan offers a basic, generic map where nearly all land is suburban mixed use. It promotes the in-fill development of the towns at slightly higher density, where mixed-use residential and commercial uses reduce transportation and infrastructure costs.

The new town scenario would create a new town – Five Points area on the map – that would accept forecasted growth, allowing for slower growth in the coastal towns and the preservation of natural resources.

The nodes concept would create small villages throughout the region. Similar to the new town scenario, the nodes would preserve open space and identify places to send growth.

The special places scenario would be a plan based around preserving the region's vistas – state parks, historical downtowns, etc. The vistas would be buffered with low- to moderate-density housing.

But all scenarios come with drawbacks, which the group has anticipated and placed on its website, www.capehenlopenregionalplan.org.

Bill McGowan of the University of Delaware Cooperation Extension Service said it's not the intention for planners to choose one scenario. Rather, the group hopes the community would work together to identify the most important issues and use elements from all plans to build a larger scenario.

Lewandowski said folks can create their own scenarios by using an interactive WeTable, which allows someone to use an infrared pen to choose a particular zoning or density for each 100-acre block on the map.

“If you want to gather some of your family, friends and neighbors together, we will come out and we will allow you the opportunity to create your own scenario,” he said. “This is a powerful tool. It can do some really neat things.”

He said real time data is provided when a user places a particular zoning or density on the map, such as how it will affect transportation or tax revenue.

The communities of Bridgeville and Greenwood were the first to use the technology, and, Lewandowski said, town officials were pleased with its easy-to-use, informative nature.

Another workshop will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, June 7, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach. For more information on the four scenarios and to see interactive maps, go to www.capehenlopenregionalplan.org.